A growing number of Democrats have signaled their support for a single-payer, government-run healthcare system for all Americans, commonly referred to as Medicare for All.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among those calling for all Americans to be under the aegis of one overarching healthcare system, and she wants to model such a nationwide program after the Department of Veterans Affairs she claims already offers world-class service.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks about the VA health care system came during a recent town hall event with voters in her home district. When it comes to the current VA system, Ocasio-Cortez said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
She lamented the push for privatization of the VA system and worried about the impact it would have on a system that, in her view, already provides “the highest quality care” to our nation’s veterans.
“Cadillac, first-class health care”
“Here’s the thing, they are trying to fix it. But who are they are trying to fix it for, is the question we gotta ask,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “They are trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they are trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and, ultimately, they are trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first,” she continued.
“So we have a responsibility to protect it, because if there is any community that deserves Cadillac, first-class health care in the United States of America, it is our military service veterans,” she added.
Suggesting that the VA system would serve as a useful framework for the nation as a whole if Medicare for All should ever become the law of the land, Ocasio-Cortez declared, “If you ask me, I would like VA for all.”
One size does not fit all
While all of that sounds nice, and the congresswoman’s stated concern for the health of our nation’s veterans is appreciated, she is woefully wrong about the quality of care veterans have been receiving from the VA.
Who can forget the Obama-era scandals that plagued the VA for years — veterans dying while languishing on months-long waiting lists for basic appointments, rationed care, uncaring and un-fireable staff, run-down and outdated facilities, among many other issues?
Our nation’s veterans do indeed deserve top-flight health care in return for their service to the country, but they haven’t been receiving that from the single-payer, government-run system that is in place, hence efforts by some to open it up and provide more choices to veterans including private sector options.
Hiring more staff is not going to significantly improve the VA, neither will forcing all veterans to receive care solely from the VA system. Furthermore, expanding the VA to cover the entirety of the nation — or even just using it as a model for a similar nationwide program — most certainly isn’t the answer.
Privatization, on the other hand, which allows veterans a greater range of choices and incentivizes providers to deliver top-quality care is the best way to upgrade and reinforce the system intended to serve the men and women who have sacrificed in uniform on behalf of a grateful nation.